Top Trail: Blackwood River Tourist Drive
Winding bush drives, lush orchards, quaint towns, tall jarrah and marri forests and spectacular scenery are just some of the attractions of the Blackwood River Tourist Drive. Following the splendid Blackwood River this trail takes you through some of Western Australia’s most picturesque farm country.
About the Trail
An easy 1.5 hours drive from Margaret River (via Brockman Highway) to Nannup, this beautiful region is a hub for some of the State’s best trails and is the ideal place to base yourself for a few days to explore the south west.
Paddle on the Blackwood River, or hire a bike and ride on the Old Timberline Trail. Camp overnight and return to Nannup via the Old Sidings Trail which makes up a 37 kilometre loop.
For a very Australian experience, stay at the old timber mill town of Donnelly River Village where kangaroos and emus abound. A 16 kilometre hike (one way) on the Bibbulmun Track will take you to Tom Road campsite nestled in the karri forest where you can stay for the night.
From Bridgetown it’s a short and very pleasant scenic drive through to Boyup Brook, also situated on the edge of the mighty Blackwood River.
Bridgetown and Balingup are great places to explore interesting shops, frequent the pubs, dine, or stroll on the Oak Grove Trail before heading back to the picture-postcard village of Nannup or down south to the tall timber country.
You may wish to hire a car in Perth, or travel by public transport bus to Bunbury and hire a car to drive to the Balingup.
Need to Know
Set in the picturesque upper reaches of the Blackwood River Valley, Balingup is an inspiration to many artisans, from artists and crafts people to wine makers and providors of gourmet produce. Follow one of Western Australia's top tourist drives, or take to the walking trails to sample the riches this region has to offer. Take the two hour and 40 minute drive south of Perth to reach the forests, winding rivers, rolling hills, vineyards and lush orchards of Balingup. Or, enjoy the journey at a slower pace, walking the Bibbulmun Track - one of the world's greatest long distance trails, stretching almost 1,000 kilometres from Kalamunda in Perth to Albany on the south coast. The track meanders through Balingup's Golden Valley Tree Park - a six hectare collection of trees from around the world that forms the largest arboretum in Western Australia. Here, you can find beauty in every season, from moody winter mists, to spring blossoms and the golden glow of autumn leaves. Venturing further afield, the top rated Blackwood River Tourist Drive takes in some of the region's most scenic landscapes, fascinating historical landmarks, top fishing spots and pretty picnic areas. The best of the Blackwood's art, craft, handcrafted pottery, jewellery, sculpture, alpaca knitwear, herbal products, antiques and collectables can all be discovered in and around the village, not to mention a tempting array of cafes, bakeries, restaurants, fresh produce and local wines. You'll be just as spoilt for choice if you decide to make Balingup your base for a country escape, with a wide range of family-friendly accommodation and romantic retreats to choose from.
Greenbushes leads you on insightful and scenic journeys through its pioneering history, forested hillsides, rolling pastures and historic mine sites. You can choose to drive, walk or even tackle the mighty Bibbulmun Track - renowned as one of the greatest long distance trails on Earth. Nestled mid-way between Balingup and Bridgetown on the South Western Highway, Greenbushes is less than three hours' drive south of Perth, or one hour's drive from Bunbury. If you're doing part or the whole stretch of the Bibbulmun Track, from Kalamunda in Perth to Albany on the south coast, you can swing by and make Greenbushes a rest stop, as it passes through Greenbushes State Forest. You'll be following in the footsteps of the early farming pioneers who regularly used the Green Bushes Well as a watering place along the Bunbury to Bridgetown trail. It earned its name from the bright green bushes that grew in the area, but when alluvial deposits of tin were discovered in 1886, it quickly gained fame for its wealth of mining and prospecting opportunities. At the Greenbushes Discovery Centre (part of the South West Ecomuseum) you can join the 'Working Life Industrial Heritage Trail' for an interactive learning experience, exploring Greenbushes' unique natural environment and the evolution of this timber and mining town. The Heritage Amble is another fascinating interactive walk which begins its journey with the region's first inhabitants, the Noongar people, and explores the tin mining and timber industries from the 1880s to the 1940s. You can also choose from a one hour stroll on the Mining Heritage Walk or a five hour hike along Greenbushes Loop. Alternatively, take a drive up to the Mine Lookout to view the open-cut tantalum mine or head out to Greenbushes Pool for a traditional Aussie barbecue in the bush. Stay in town and soak up the yesteryear charm of Greenbushes' historic hotel, or enjoy the serenity of a self-contained cottage in the surrounding countryside.
Nannup, also known as 'The Garden Village', is nestled on the banks of the Blackwood River amid tall karri and jarrah tree forests. Famous for its dazzling blooms of tulips, daffodils and native spring wildflowers, the town offers an equally impressive display of arts, crafts and heritage architecture. Once you've made the three hour and 15 minute drive south of Perth to Nannup, stretch your legs with a stroll along the Heritage Trail and acquaint yourself with the town's history and yesteryear charms. Be seduced by the cosy tea rooms and the arts, crafts and antique stores lining the main street, as well as the beguiling private and public floral gardens that earn Nannup its title as 'The Garden Village'. Nannup Arboretum is also a must-see for botanical buffs, planted in the 1926 it showcases a collection of trees from around the world. To discover the native flora and forests of Nannup, hit one of the many walking trails meandering through forests of jarrah and one of the world's tallest hardwoods - the karri tree. You'll find a host of plant species that are unique to the South West, including many brightly-coloured Banksias and carpets of wildflowers in spring. Another great way to take in Nannup's natural beauty is to paddle the Blackwood River in a canoe. Here, you can also try your hand at trout fishing (in season), or head to Barrabup Pool and Workers Pool for a dip and a picnic. A scenic drive along the popular Nannup/Balingup Tourist Drive or Blackwood Scenic Drive reveals more of the region's breathtaking natural landscapes, offering plenty of must-stop opportunities to enjoy a stroll or picnic by the river. If you've worked up an appetite, check out the array of eateries in Nannup, ranging from a la carte to cafes and takeaways. You'll also find an inviting range of accommodation, including bed and breakfasts, chalets, cottages, farmstays, bush cabins and camping and caravan options.